Aussies look good but Lions 'have both pace and power'

Qld Reds and Wallabies player Will Genia is one of the stars of world rugby.
Qld Reds and Wallabies player Will Genia is one of the stars of world rugby. Gallo Images

RUGBY UNION: Former dual international Michael O'Connor believes Australia's upcoming series against the British and Irish Lions is shaping up well because most players in the Wallabies squad are in rare form.

The Wallabies arrive on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday for a week-long training camp ahead of the First Test in Brisbane on June 22.

And Sunshine Beach's O'Connor, 53, said the squad was looking good.

"Obviously you've got (flanker) Dave Pocock out and he is a big loss, but by-and-large you've got players who are in form at the moment, which we haven't had for the last couple of years," he said.

"We haven't had the form that we are showing at the moment with the Super 15s so I think that's really encouraging."

The third-placed Brumbies and fourth-placed Reds have had strong campaigns, largely on the back of their Wallabies players.

"And just the way New South Wales are playing as well, it's very exciting to watch," O'Connor said.

"The way they're throwing the ball around and opting not to kick it, it's really good.

"It's fast recycle rugby, which is different to what they play in the northern hemisphere so the series is shaping up really well."

But O'Connor, a centre who played 13 Tests for Australia from 1979-1984, said Australia would need to be at its best and the backline battle would be crucial.

"They (the Lions) have got a very big three-quarter line," he said.

"You've still got Brian O'Driscoll who was over here in the last Lions Tour (in 2001) when he really made his name in the First Test at the Gabba.

"Twelve years later he's back as one of the greatest centres of all time. Then you've got Jamie Roberts, who toured with the Lions to South Africa and played in the Welsh side which was so successful in the Six Nations this year."

O'Connor said the Lions had pace as well as power.

"They've got some serious gas out wide so we'll be doing well to match them there. If we do, then we'll do well," he said.

O'Connor now coaches the Australian Sevens team, which will contest the Sevens World Cup in Russia later this month.

Topics:  british and irish lions wallabies

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